Shower pan leakage???

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by chavo, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. chavo

    chavo New Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    This is my 1st post and I apoligize in advance, as I just about tackled this leakage/drainage problem myself, by trying to repair/ make a new shower pan. I know nothing about plumbing or tile work.Fortunately I got on the net and went to a few forums. I need help, so Im hoping you all can give me some advise.

    We recently bought a house that was built in 1961. When the 3 kids take their/a 30 minute shower. LOL. I have a wet spot in the carpet. The leak is not immediate after showering but accumalitive.When they take short showers we have no problemos. In other words after heavy week of usage, a week or more later i have a wet spot in the Master bedroom at the door/entrance to the bathroom. Seems to me if it was the pan/tile/grout/caulking problem it would be immediately after usage.

    Looking down the drain there is 40+ years of SCUM build-up, maybe 1.25 inch opening. Alot of build up.........
    Could the weep holes be partially blocked or could the drain not be working like it should cause of the 40+ years of build-up???, Maybe there is just enough back-pressure that the weep holes don't work like they should???

    Water doesn't come out over/under the curb or shower door. But must build up enough condensation underneath??? which turns to droplets -then water runs along the bottom of the wall that seperates the bathroom from bedroom. With heavy usage it must build up enough condensation that turns to moisture, that has no where to go that it ends up leaking right behind the wall in our bedroom, as the shower pan is on the other side. As I've lifted up the carpet ,and the wooden carpet fastners along that wall can be damp ordry with staining. Fortunately it's a concrete floor so no rotting of sub floor, but I'm sure the bottom plate don't look so good.

    Can snaking the drain or de-scumming said build up help the weep holes to work better?? Have you all heard of this.

    Could they be partially blocked?? It seems like when the kids take short showers,i.e less then 5 minutes we have no problems.LOLwhen they obey me, but when I'm not around they go back to their 30minute showers.. Have gone weeks/month without a wet spot. I've regrouted and sealed and caulked. Water seems to drain fairly good and quick but you can see some water in the drain, even though it doesn't back-up into the shower.

    I've gotten a few phone quotes and everyone wants to replace the whole shower @ 2K, without even accessing the problem. Where as one gentleman Plumber called back and said the shower pan/weep hole system could possibly at end of life. He said alot of times it's not the tile, it's the weep system , have any of you pros heard of this theory. I'm hoping it's valid as I can't afford 2k right now.

    He was the 1st and only one to say make sure plumbing is draining properly(gravity based), to snake/ream it out real good to the street so that there is no hint of back-pressure to that particular drain, that sometimes with even a little/slightest backpressure that old weep holes aren't able to work properly, so condensation builds up which if not relieved/drained turns to droplets which eventually builds up enough that it finally turns to enough water build up that seeps under the pan and down under the wall. That the build up we are seeing is probably from the heavy usage(kids take a shower everyday) and is the accumalitive effect of at least a week or more.

    I forgot to ask him Is there any way to unblock weep holes without replacing the plumbing/drain/membrane and shower pan. Would knocking off or using some type descuming agent,on all that scum help the shower pan to breath/perspire/drain???? I guess I'll try this 1st, maybe I can get a little more life out of the pan. Which I'm sure will need to be replaced eventually.

    Man I can rattle on . Thanx in advance
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2005
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Weep holes in the drain flange are to allow any water which goes through the tile grout to find its way into the drain. Otherwise, it would accumulate and stagnate, causing an odor problem. The weep holes are ABOVE the waterproof membrane, so blocked weep holes should not be related to a leak situation.

    There are a number of possible sources of your water, not all associated with the drain. Investigate the shower valves, and the shower head arm. Use a flashlight to look inside after removing chrome trim. Double and triple check the corners of the shower door area.

    By the way, we are talking about a tile floor, right? A molded fibreglas unit doesn't even have weep holes.

    This shower is 35 years old. It doesn't owe you anything, and it may be time to bite the bullet. If you are inclined to DIY, a tile shower is a laborious project, but not beyond the reach of a handy homeowner. Educate yourself on proper design and construction. There will be many hours(days,weeks!) involved in construction but the cost of materials is modest.

    Visit the website for help both with the leak problem, and with the new construction if you decide to go that way.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2005
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  4. chavo

    chavo New Member

    Feb 25, 2005

    Appreciate the reply Jimbo. You are correct in that it is a tile pan. I will check the comers, I have checked the valves and they are fine,, no leakage on wall behind faucets, they are dry with no water damge. Going to give it my best shot in finding /fixing the leak. I'll regrout and seal the pan, and caulk the corners.

    My question is if water does get thru tile/grout and can't weep out cause of blocked weep holes ,where does it go then???

    You maybe be right may have to bite the bullet and replace the whole shower. Have to be a weekend plumber warrior. Jimbo Thanks for the website very informative.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Assuming that your shower actually has a waterproof membrane (since it is built on a concrete floor, sometimes it is incorrectly left out), if the weep holes were plugged, you'd have water under the tile, but it wouldn't leak out into the room unless the membrane has failed. A properly installed, working membrane makes the shower pan waterproof up to and slightly above the curb. Unless you had standing water above that point, it shouldn't leak. So, if it is not water coming from the shower head fittings, or the valves or supply pipes, it is most likely the pan. Now, if there are cracks in the walls, especially in the corners, it could be getting through there above the pan, but is more likely that the pan has failed. In today's cose, a shower drain needs to be 2" to allow the water to drain quickly. My unprofessional opinion.
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